Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Dwight Yoakam on LSD Tour and shared histories
However you classify their music (alt-country, Americana, heartland rock) Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and Dwight Yoakam are three of the most respected musicians of any genre. The trio have a combined 49 Grammy nominations — with hits including “Guitars, Cadillacs” (Yoakam), “Copperhead Road” (Earle), and “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” (Williams) — and are now set to join forces on the road this summer for the first time ever.
EW spoke with the three icons about their shared histories, favorite songs, and finally touring together after decades of friendship.
Where did the idea for the LSD tour begin?
YOAKAM: It sprang forth from Steve and I bumping into each other late in 2016. We were at a birthday bash. We hadn’t seen each other for a few years. The last time we were hanging [was] around my bus at the Graham Parsons tribute years ago. So we were all talking, and I said, “You know, why don’t we do something together?”
EARLE: [Dwight] had the suggestion of me and him, and Los Lobos and the Blasters or something, but the next thing I heard, it was me and him and Lu. Lu and I, we do the Outlaw Country cruises together, and she did my benefit for [Earle’s son] John Henry’s school. We were headed toward something like this, so the two things kinda collided.
YOAKAM: I was ecstatic, because I thought this could be fun. I said, “Lucinda and Steve and me, well, that’d be LSD! It would be hallucinogenic for the three of us to tour for the first time after all these years.” Also, Steve, Lucinda, and I are part of a group of outliers who came from another time and place.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. I definitely feel that way. I think [being outliers] is what connects me and Steve. When I was in Nashville and Steve was in Nashville, I feel we were the male and female antithesis of [music there].
YOAKAM: The three of us have reputations that precede us, individually and collectively. So I thought we landed the initial thing of LSD as a fun moniker for the tour, because you don’t gotta take nothing. Just come see us and you’ll be hallucinating. It’s gonna be fun for us, and I hope interesting to everybody else.
YOAKAM: This is kind of full circle of that moment that was dubbed “cow punk.” Lucinda and I over the years had played random spots on the same bill. But I’ve always been a big fan of Lucinda as a writer and as a performer. And she came out of the whole periphery of that moment in L.A.
WILLIAMS: I used to go to King’s Western Wear. I remember seeing Dwight there. He was always real polite, and he knew who I was. Steve, I remember going to see you when I was living with Greg Sowders, the drummer in the Long Ryders. Those guys opened for you, or you for them…
EARLE: It was probably in San Juan Capistrano [California].
WILLIAMS: Yes, at the Coach House! Was that before Guitar Town?
EARLE: It was my first tour of California after it came out. I wasn’t part of the Palomino scene. I had a three-piece rockabilly band in ’82, ’83, which is where record labels started paying attention to me, finally. I’d been in Nashville since I was 19. I had several publishing deals; I was in Guy Clarke’s band for about 30 seconds.
What are some of your favorites of each other’s tunes?
YOAKAM: Lucinda’s “Changed the Locks” is one of my favorite songs. It’s brilliant.
WILLIAMS: Awww, I didn’t know that. I love Steve’s song I sang on, “You’re Still Standing There,” and I love the song about the guy on death row, “Ellis Unit One” — it’s like a troubadour ballad, and it was in that movie with Susan Sarandon, Dead Man Walking. That’s a brilliant song.
YOAKAM: With Steve you always have this observer’s attitude, his ability to work outside the bounds of where his journey into music grew. Steve is completely unique. When I listen to him do his show I’m always fascinated by his perspective on that [Nashville] world, because mine’s completely from the outside. He’s this guy of my generation that was there witnessing the passing of that baton and participating with guys who were monumental legends, the moment that gave the world Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline. Steve arrived in Nashville with those guys still in it and still very much involved. There’s something profoundly unique about that.
The audience is going to want to see you all onstage together during this LSD tour. Will that happen?
YOAKAM: I got a suspicion we’re gonna end up doing something, some mischief that we’ll make together. I’ve got an idea, but—
You can’t tell me?
YOAKAM: Nah, I can tell you. We still have to do it, and we’ll probably scrap it after the first night. We’ll do it and the three of us will go, “Umm, you wanna do that again?” “No. I’m bored with it now.” I was thinking about the three of us doing Lowell George and Little Feat’s “Willin’.” That kind of suits the moment. But if not that, there’s plenty of other stuff.
WILLIAMS: I know a Merle [Haggard] song, I know a Buck Owens song!
EARLE: Lu’s band and mine are getting to be buddies, getting to know each other, because we’ve done the cruises together. We used both bands for a Tom Petty tribute… my band for half, Lu’s band for half. This’ll be really easy and really entertaining, I promise.
YOAKAM: Hopefully we’re gonna give fitting acknowledgment to a wonderful kind of shared moment musically that the three of us were able to start.
The LSD Tour kicks off June 12, 2018 at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston, and concludes on August 18, 2018 at Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn in Indianapolis.